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Mitchell McNab

Nuffield Australia 2016 Scholarship winner

Mitchell McNab, from Ardmona in Victoria, received a Nuffield Scholarship supported by Horticulture Innovation Australia, using voluntary contributions from industry and matched funds from the Australian Government.

He investigated innovative robotics technology for the horticultural sector, with a particular focus on implementation in fruit growing and packing operations.

Mitchell is a fifth generation orchardist and manages his family’s H.V. McNab & Sons orchard and cold storage complex. Their 64-hectare orchard is planted to six pear varieties, five apple varieties and plums and produces more than 2800 tonnes of fruit annually.

Mitchell says historically the focus of the business has been on growing fruit for processing, but the emphasis is now firmly on fresh fruit supply and packing for domestic and overseas markets.

“As we continue to expand, I am really interested in using the most hightech and growing-friendly systems, including robotics and other labor-saving technologies,” he says.

“I think these types of innovations are vital for the future of the Australian horticultural sector, which is traditionally very labour intensive.”

Mitchell says there is potential to use robotics in both the orchard environment and in packing sheds as these technologies become more advanced and affordable.

“One example of robotics application is for counting and mapping fruit blossom, which is invaluable data for growers making decisions about water applications, inputs and determining crop loads,” he says.

Mitchell studied the overseas use of robotics and other labour-saving technologies in horticultural industries when he visited China, Italy, Poland and the USA. He also travelled to other parts of Australia through his scholarship.

Location: Ardmona, Victoria
Mobile: 0408 323 849
Scholarship report:
Returning Scholar presentation:

Mitchell McNab is supported by:

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